A Russian military plane reported missing Sunday, December 25, 2016 with 92 people aboard has crashed, leaving a trail of plane wreckage in the Black Sea near Sochi, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
A Tupolev Tu-154 plane that was carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members disappeared from radar Sunday morning local time after taking off from the Adler airport near the Black Sea city, state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
The plane, which first took off from Moscow, was headed to the Russian Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, Syria, where the country has a large military presence, for a concert ahead of New Year’s Eve, a source told Russia’s state news agency Tass.
Before arriving in Latakia, the plane landed in Sochi to refuel, the Defence Ministry’s press service told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
According to RIA Novosti, the Defense Ministry said it found debris from the missing Tu-154 in the Black Sea one mile from Sochi.
It’s likely not weather, nor terrorism…
CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam said no major weather patterns were present at the time of the plane’s disappearance.
The Russian Tu-154 could have crashed because of a technical malfunction or a pilot’s error but not terrorism, the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Ozerov said, according to Russia’s Sputnik news agency.
“I rule out version of the terror attack completely. It is the aircraft of the Ministry of Defense, the airspace of the Russian Federation, there cannot be such a version,” Ozerov is quoted as saying. “The plane had to make a U-turn after takeoff over the sea, may took the wrong direction.”
Members of the renowned Alexandrov Ensemble, the Russian army’s official choir,were on board the plane, a source told Russia’s Interfax News Agency.
In addition to choir members, nine journalists — including three reporters with Star TV — and other military members were on board as well, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry’s official television network.
This article originally appeared on CNN.